B.C. housing industry still waiting for HST Plan B

In the wake of the HST referendum, housing contractors hope B.C. consumers won't wait 18 months to spend on renovations and new homes.

Peter Simpson is President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association.

Peter Simpson is President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association.

Colin Oswin – BC Local News

Hold on to your hats: The rejection of the HST has created a boatload of uncertainty for the B.C. housing industry.

Elections B.C. announced on Aug. 26 that 54.73 per cent of the voters who participated in the referendum wanted to get rid of the HST and move back to the old PST system, while 45.27 per cent wanted to keep it.

The move to the HST in July 2010 added seven per cent to the cost of labour in home renovations – a tax that wasn’t applied under the PST. New homes over $525,000 are also taxed under the HST – for the time being.

Now, in the wake of the referendum, contractors in B.C. are caught in the transition back to the PST, which Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said would take 18 months.

Peter Simpson, President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association, says the provincial government didn’t offer up much of a tax plan that businesses can use for the intervening year-and-a-half.

Will B.C. residents step away from the market? Simpson says no one can predict the exact outcome, but he expects consumers will put off some reno projects, lowering revenue for contractors.

Emergencies like a leaky roof will get taken care of, he says, but a kitchen or a media room reno may have to wait.

One solution would see the province offer tax rebates for renovation projects between now and the shift back to the PST, but Simpson says nothing like that was mentioned by Falcon or Premier Christy Clark after the results came out – even though she said the Liberals had prepared a Plan B, just in case the HST was rejected.

“They need a Plan C, because Plan B is not cutting it for our industry right now,” Simpson says.

“This whole HST has been a debacle since it was introduced in July 2009 and it will continue 18 months from now.”

He says the government needs to come up with a plan to get people to pull the trigger on renos and home purchases immediately, not in 18 months.

“There has to be some kind of system that makes it neutral whether you do it now or wait,” he says. “They have to address these issues.”

Simpson notes that by the time it’s all said and done and B.C. moves back to the PST, four years will have passed since the HST was introduced. That’s enough time to earn a university degree.

Rob Currie, co-owner of waterproofing contractor Basement Systems Vancouver Inc., says consumers were waiting even before the referendum result was handed down because they weren’t sure how the tax situation would affect the bottom line.

He says the province needs to hammer out a transition plan very quickly, so consumers can make their decisions and contractors can get to work.

“People who are out there bidding and quoting need to have a real understanding of where we’re at,” he says.

“We’re looking for a policy to very clearly explain the plan, so we can make decisions and our customers can make decisions as well.”

He says lots of people just want some clarity on a very simple question: how much am I going to spend?

With the tax regime in a state of flux, Currie says no one knows.

Just Posted

More and more graffiti has appeared in Ladysmith’s downtown core during the pandemic. (Cole Schisler photo)
Council creates rebate program to encourage graffiti clean up

Property owners can receive up to $50 to help fund graffiti removal

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

Flowers and candles were laid on the driveway of the Weber home, where Kerri Weber was found dead in November 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria man to stand trial for death of his wife last November

Ken Weber is charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kerri Weber

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts was found dead near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Most Read